Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Going Shopping, Stars In Hand

I had given myself a short window to do the final pre-Christmas shop. The more time I had, I reasoned, the more I would spend, on myself, on others, just because. I have never in my life gone into a store without having the desire to put everything even mildly of interest to me into a cart and take off for the hills, a Bonnie & Clyde version of Supermarket Sweep. Best to limit my time.

Soho offers the best bang for the buck, downtown Manhattan's closest proximity to a mall. My first stop is always Once Upon A Tart on Sullivan St. I remember the first time I tasted their buttermilk scone. I sat on the front steps and finished it in a minute, then got up and went in for another. It is the thing I missed most about New York City when I moved away for a while.

As the lady behind the counter packed the scone into a bag my eyes got big.

"I dream about these sometimes..." I said. She laughed.

Fortified with a bit of the scone and some espresso, I set out on my mission. I looked in the window of Global Table longingly. There was no one on my list who would want anything there, but I wanted lots of things...I had to stop in.

I looked around and shared my dilemma with the saleswoman.

"When I'm out shopping, I see so much I want..." I said. "That's the problem with this season."

She nodded vehemently. "I hate Christmas," she acknowledged. "I told everybody my budget this year is half of half."

I laughed. She sighed. It was going to be a long day, this day just before Christmas, waiting for people to come in, hoping that they themselves wouldn't have half of half budgets. I gave her a gold star.

"Thank you!" she said enthusiastically, "That is so nice!" She paused, then offered, "You are my first customer of the day. Now, I think it's going to be a great day!"

"Good!" I said. I bought a few stocking stuffers and waved as I walked out, the bell jingling as I shut the door, wishing her a Merry Merry despite it all. Sometimes when our expectations are low, things can only look brighter than we imagine.

Along the way, I hit the M.A.C. store, again for myself, to pick up some makeup I needed, though as I write it I realize "need" is a relative term. A young man was very helpful, patiently explaining to me over and over again a bit of information about my foundation that I didn't trust. He persevered, offered his expert opinion and convinced me. For some reason, being able to trust him made me happy.

"I love this product and I love you!" I said with a burst of good cheer.

He laughed and, when we went to the counter to ring up my purchase, I whipped out the biggest gold star in the pack.

"Oh my God!" he said, "That's awesome! You totally made my day!" he said. He put it right on his chest and showed off to his coworkers whose jealousy, of course, got them their own gold stars, just a wee bit smaller so he would still feel special. They were all smiling and happy. I was smiling and happy too.

As I walked out, off to do my real shopping, the shopping I needed to do for others, I felt great. Presents aside, disseminating gold stars in the stressful last moments before the holiday, gives me the true feeling of giving.

Happy Holidays! Gold star to all of you for all you've done and are doing for others!

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